The Night Before by Wendy Walker follows two sisters uncovering long-buried secrets when an internet date spirals out of control. The following book club questions will have spoilers so if you haven’t read the novel yet, check out my spoiler-free review.
Laura Lochner has never been lucky in love. She falls too hard and too fast, always choosing the wrong men. Devastated by the end of her last relationship, she fled her Wall Street job and New York City apartment for her sister’s home in the Connecticut suburb where they both grew up. Though still haunted by the tragedy that’s defined her entire life, Laura is determined to take one more chance on love with a man she’s met on an Internet dating site.
Rosie Ferro has spent most of her life worrying about her troubled sister. Fearless but fragile, Laura has always walked an emotional tightrope, and Rosie has always been there to catch her. Laura’s return, under mysterious circumstances, has cast a shadow over Rosie’s peaceful life with her husband and young son – a shadow that grows darker as Laura leaves the house for her blind date.
When Laura does not return home the following morning, Rosie fears the worst. She’s not responding to calls or texts, and she’s left no information about the man she planned to meet. As Rosie begins a desperate search to find her sister, she is not just worried about what this man might have done to Laura. She’s worried about what Laura may have done to him…
Let’s get into the discussion questions
- After a brief chapter in the past with Laura’s therapist, it turns to “the night before” when she’s getting ready for a first date with a man she met online. She’s taking great care to get ready and embraces a dress and cherry red lipstick because she believes the “old” her won’t be able to get a date. What do you think that says about Laura that she felt she had to almost become someone else before going on the date?
- Why do you think Laura ran away from New York and moved in with sister? Do you think it was because of having her heart broken or was there something more?
- When Rosie awakes the next day to find out Laura never returned—what did you think happened to Laura?
- Were you suspicious of Jonathan Fields from the get-go? What were red flags for you? Laura had plenty of chances to get away from him; why do you think she continued to stay?
- And on that note, why would she reveal her past to him? Why do you think she slept with him? Was is it because Laura had low self esteem? Did she not think she was worthy of love?
- Throughout the novel, we slowly learn about that night in high school when Laura’s boyfriend, Mitch, was killed. Much of it makes it seem like Laura was the one who did it, even though the homeless man was convicted of it. Did you think she was guilty all along or did you think she was innocent?
- What do you think about the dynamic between Laura and Rosie? Did Rosie trust Laura?
- Were you surprised when it was revealed that Laura and Joe (Rosie’s husband) are actually siblings?
- In what ways did Laura’s father leaving the family impact her relationship with men as an adult?
- Did you ever suspect that Gabe was the mastermind behind it all? Why do you think none of the characters ever suspected him?
- What did you think about the ending? What’s next for Laura and Rosie?
- Part of this story, in a sense, is a cautionary tale of online dating, specifically how men abuse the platform. What are your thoughts about online dating? Why do you think so many people, mainly men, lie on the platform?
- If they turned this book into a movie or TV series, who should play the lead parts?
What to read next
If you’re looking for another thriller, here are some recommendations!
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley is murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the end.
During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.
The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.
Now, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides is an engrossing read with plenty of shocking reveals.
Alicia Berenson’s life is seemingly perfect. A famous painter married to an in-demand fashion photographer, she lives in a grand house with big windows overlooking a park in one of London’s most desirable areas. One evening her husband Gabriel returns home late from a fashion shoot, and Alicia shoots him five times in the face, and then never speaks another word.
Alicia’s refusal to talk, or give any kind of explanation, turns a domestic tragedy into something far grander, a mystery that captures the public imagination and casts Alicia into notoriety. The price of her art skyrockets, and she, the silent patient, is hidden away from the tabloids and spotlight at the Grove, a secure forensic unit in North London.
Theo Faber is a criminal psychotherapist who has waited a long time for the opportunity to work with Alicia. His determination to get her to talk and unravel the mystery of why she shot her husband takes him down a twisting path into his own motivations―a search for the truth that threatens to consume him….
Feel free to discuss The Night Before below!